The United States added 245,000 jobs in November, according to data released by the Labor Department on Friday—slowing to about one third of the gains in recent months and roughly 45% less than economists expected, as new forecasts suggest employment won’t return to prepandemic levels until 2024.
The unemployment rate ticked down to 6.7% in November from 6.9% in October, six months after hitting a record high of 14.7% in April.
There are now 10.9 million unemployed people in the United States, compared to 11.1 million in October, the government said, meaning the economy has still only regained about half of the 22 million jobs lost during the pandemic.
The number of permanent job losers remained roughly flat in November at about 3.7 million—more than three times prepandemic levels.
In addition to the worse-than-expected job gains, the labor force participation rate edged down to 61.5%, as the number of people not actively seeking employment but who still currently want a job increased by nearly half a million in November.
About 3.9 million people out of the labor force in November were unable to look for work because of the pandemic, the BLS reported, up from 3.6 million in October.
November’s report continued to show stark differences in unemployment by race, with minority groups such as Black Americans and Hispanics facing above-average unemployment rates of 10.3% and 8.4%, respectively.
“Friday’s report confirms that the recent labor market recovery is decelerating,” says James McDonald, the CEO of Los Angeles-based Hercules Investments. “With escalating Covid-19 cases and enforced shutdowns here to stay through the winter, the job market recovery is over until the winter wave [of the pandemic] is behind us—vaccine deployment will not happen in time to prevent layoffs both from small businesses and major multinational companies.”
Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank President Patrick Harker said on Wednesday that he expects the economic recovery to level off well below prepandemic levels through the first half of 2021, citing signs the economy is “plateauing” as a result of Covid-19’s continued circulation and the “evaporation of fiscal support—particularly for low-income households.” Moody’s Analytics warned over the weekend that it could take until early 2024—roughly four years after the pandemic hit domestically—until the 22 million jobs lost to the pandemic in March and April are added back by the economy, and S&P Global Ratings said U.S. employment levels won’t return to pre-Covid levels until after 2023.
Some companies have turned to technology and automation in an effort to boost productivity in the absence of real workers, and it’s been working: Productivity is up 4% this year despite major job losses, Moody’s Analytics said on Sunday–a sign that many of the jobs that have disappeared during the pandemic may never return, Harker warned on Wednesday.
What To Watch For
Barring any additional legislation from Washington, many Americans face the loss of unemployment benefits, as well as hardships like eviction and foreclosure, once existing government relief programs expire at the current end-of-year deadline.
20.2 million. That’s how many people are still receiving some form of government unemployment benefit last week—shockingly high compared to the 1.6 million in the comparable week in 2019, according to weekly data released Thursday. That’s higher than the number of unemployed Americans, due to a startling number of people who’ve dropped out of the labor force because they’re no longer looking for work.
Unemployment Claims Fall After Two-Week Surge (Forbes)
Federal Program Underpaid Unemployed, Labor Department Published Inaccurate Jobless Data, GAO Says (Forbes)
Many Of The 22 Million Lost Jobs ‘May Never Return’ And A Recovery Is Already ‘Plateauing’: Philly Fed President (Forbes)
It Could Take 4 Years To Recover The 22 Million Jobs Lost During Covid-19 Pandemic, Moody’s Warns (Forbes)